BlackUp Job Site Launches After Prompting From God
As Frisco church member Christabel Agbonkonkon watched the race riots in 2020 after the George Floyd outrage, she felt a call from God to contribute to bettering lives in the Black community.
She founded BlackUp, a website launching this week, aiming to connect Black professionals with companies looking to be more inclusive and diversify their workforce. (https://blackuptech.com/)
“I had a prompting that I needed to contribute to the Black community and that it had to be about jobs,” Agbonkonkon said. The feeling that kept coming back to me was, “This is going to be your contribution to the Black community.”
The company’s slogan is “BlackUp, Making Job Equity a Reality.” Employees can also rate companies for their pay equity and opportunities for Black professionals. Companies can use these progress reports to improve their efforts in hiring.
“I have watched companies have the intention to hire more Black professionals and then get discouraged and give up,” she said. Not knowing where to look or how to make a change in their workforce, employers can now be more intentional in their inclusive efforts with BlackUp.
“We have over 10,000 black professionals waiting to use the site to connect with new opportunities,” she said. “The goal is to have 1 million Black professionals signing up.”
Agbonkonkon says, “Jobs are so foundational to our mental health, self-reliance and economic security that can help you believe in yourself. It’s about building self-esteem and a better feeling about the world around them.”
“Giving Blacks better access to jobs would do so much to improve their mental health. Jobs can provide for families, keep families together and keep people out of trouble and out of jail.”
Agbonkonkon is a soccer mother of five living in Frisco and a counselor in the women’s ministry of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She says her hero would be Mother Teresa.
To develop the site, Agbonkonkon reached out to her alumni, Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business, and found a professor of Information Systems willing to pull students to do research and help build a prototype for the website. The Dean was committed to researching DE&I efforts. The more she looked at the research, the clearer it was of the need and demand to help connect Blacks to jobs that match their skills.
She says there’s a need to improve better matching of the skills of Black professionals with the right position in a company. Too often, hiring happens to fill a diversity criterion, instead of the best match.
“Better matching before hiring is one of the website’s goals,” she says. As they are better matched, she believes the Black professionals are more likely to stay in that job and succeed as they feel their confidence grow.
“Only about 2 percent of Black resumes are picked up right now in search,” she says from their research. She wants BlackUp to impact as many Black professionals as it can who need to improve their job status or security.
She gives God credit for her entrepreneurial gift and says she has been selling things in hopes of improving lives since she was a youth in Nigeria. She gives God full credit for the personality that she has that would lead her to this project.
In our Church, there is a hymn that says, “Because I have been given much, I too must give” and that is her mantra.
Sharisa Lewis is a DFW Media Metro Specialist living with her husband and two children in the Frisco Texas Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.